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VV’s DIARY

August 3rd: Spain’s Constitutional Court is not as vocal as the Spanish government

The fencing match with Catalan institutions takes place on a stage, with an audience, and the State knows that there are certain images that it cannot allow

I get the feeling that the tone of the Constitutional Court's (TC's) injunction on the conclusions approved by the Catalan parliament isn’t quite the same as the Spanish government’s.

The government used a rather strident, irate, forceful tone. The most hardcore faction of Spanish nationalism has sniffed out the difference and they find the TC soft. To some extent, it is the difference between political language —which admits excesses— and legalese, where subtleties reign supreme. But there could be more to it.

It could well be that the TC has tried to distance itself from the government's attempts to turn it into an instrument of sorts, like a wall or a battering ram. And it could be a division of roles. The Spanish government needs to display toughness and, if necessary, insolence, for the sake of its acolytes.

But the fencing match with Catalan institutions takes place on a stage, with an audience, and the State knows that there are certain images that it cannot allow. Photos too reminiscent of Turkey. They couldn’t allow pictures of Civil Guards removing ballot boxes, nor can they afford to shut down the Catalan Parliament.

Therefore, there is a lot of hard talk, many movements within the maze of legal paperwork —crammed with allegations, appeals, and warnings—, but much care is exercised when it comes to taking action. Because action comes with pictures. And they are not pretty ones.